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U.S. Open Series to Launch in July, Linking 10 Pro Events and Providing 100 Hours of TV

U.S. Open Series announcement

the USTA made the new U.S. Open Series official in late April, announcing a historic breakthrough for the sport that will link 10 summer hard-court tournaments to the U.S. Open. The new Series will create a cohesive, six-week summer tennis season for ATP and WTA Tour professional tournaments in North America.

Significantly, the Series marks the first time in the U.S. that there will be a consistent television schedule for the tournaments, which begin this July after Wimbledon and lead up to the U.S. Open.

Key to the creation of the U.S. Open Series is a landmark television agreement with ESPN that provides a regular, weekly schedule of live broadcasts in prime-viewing time slots for U.S. Open Series events. In addition, CBS Sports and NBC will televise select weekend coverage. The combined live, national coverage of 100 hours of U.S. Open Series events and 140 hours of U.S. Open broadcasts on CBS Sports and USA Network represent a record 240 hours of professional tennis coverage over eight weeks during the summer.

For the first time ever, players competing in U.S. Open Series tournaments will be vying for bonus prize money at the U.S. Open. Effective in 2005, the men’s and women’s winners of the U.S. Open Series will play for double the prize money at the U.S. Open. For 2004, the two winners of the U.S. Open Series will receive one and one-half times the prize money they would otherwise receive at the U.S. Open. In addition, the second-place and third-place finishers will receive bonus prize money based on their U.S. Open performance.

The U.S. Open Series is the brainchild of Arlen Kantarian, the USTA’s chief executive of Professional Tennis, who worked doggedly over the last three years to put together all the pieces of the puzzle. It represents an unprecedented collaboration between the USTA, tournament owners, television networks, the ATP and WTA Tour, and sponsors. The official announcement was made April 20 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Olympus and MassMutual have signed on as charter sponsors of the Series. The USTA is currently in discussions with a group of companies to become the exclusive presenting sponsor of the overall U.S. Open Series. The USTA and its partners will join for a national and local marketing campaign, expected to break in June, that will include television, print, and online media to launch the Series. Also launching is USOpenSeries.com, a website providing tournament information and live links to all 10 event websites.

“This unprecedented partnership within the sport has resulted in a huge step forward for professional tennis in North America,” says Kantarian. “The U.S. Open Series creates, for the first time, a clear and concise big-league summer season for tennis, leading into and culminating with the U.S. Open. A unified Series with a consistent television platform benefits everyone — players, tournaments, broadcasters, sponsors, and, most importantly, fans.”

The 100 hours of U.S. Open Series coverage will include both a men’s and women’s final every Sunday afternoon throughout the summer.

The U.S. Open Series will begin on July 12, with the top men playing in the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles and the top women at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif. The Series continues over the course of the ensuing six weeks — in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Toronto, Cincinnati, Montreal, Washington, D.C., New Haven, and Long Island.

Ashaway Offers New Crossfire MonoGut Set

Ashaway Crossfire MonoGut

Ashaway Racket Strings says its new Crossfire MonoGut tennis hybrid string sets offer a unique combination of durability, playability and tension holding that is ideal for both hard-hitters who want a softer playing string and power players who are looking for a more durable hybrid. The sets include 23-foot MonoGut mains in metallic silver and 20-foot synthetic gut crosses in white. Ashaway suggests that players string the MonoGut mains at 10 percent to 20 percent less tension than they are used to, to achieve best results. For more information, contact 800-556-7260 or visit ashawayusa.com.

Tennis Channel Launches ‘Tennis Insiders’ Series

The Tennis Channel 24-hour cable television network announces its latest original series, “Tennis Insiders,” a half-hour panel series featuring tennis players, coaches, executives, agents and other industry representatives discussing the sport in front of an audience. The initial episodes are moderated by renowned tennis journalist and broadcaster Bud Collins.

The first episode, which aired in April, featured a panel that included ATP Chief Executive Mark Miles, Inside Tennis reporter Matthew Cronin, tennis legend Rod Laver and Pacific Life Open Tournament Chairman Charlie Pasarell. Collins gets his guests’ points of view on everything from the length of the season to the return to a golden age of tennis.

“‘Tennis Insiders’” lets tennis fans see what people in the industry think about the game today,” says Bruce Rider, executive vice president of programming and marketing for The Tennis Channel. “The on-site audience participation we’ve had during our first tapings has been tremendous, and the questions are what our television audience would want to ask these industry figures. And Bud Collins brings his unique flair and experience to the program as well.”

Penn Announces Promotions for Three

Coming on the heels of Penn Racquet Sports’ move of the Mullingar, Ireland, manufacturing plant operations to its Phoenix headquarters, the company has now announced three promotions that will impact its international business.

Terry Truett was promoted to the new position of director of quality development worldwide and Martin Boyle was promoted to plant manager. Both will report to John Hunter, Penn’s worldwide director of manufacturing. Jeff Ratkovich was promoted to international operations manager, reporting to Ron Lovett, vice president of operations.

“With the move of our Mullingar plant to Phoenix, it gave us a tremendous opportunity to remain competitive and foster growth for the Penn brand,” says Dave Haggerty, president of Penn Racquet Sports and CEO of Head USA. “Naturally, that growth makes way for new positions and we are pleased to promote and create jobs for such dedicated team players.”

Truett was Penn’s former Phoenix operations manager and will now be responsible for international quality, playtesting, product development and supplier development programs. Boyle was the plant manager for the Mullingar facility and will be responsible for the world’s largest tennis manufacturing plant in Phoenix. Ratkovich has 17 years’ experience with Penn and will oversee international customer service, logistics and forecasting.

TIA Data on TWCs Show Leagues, Free Lessons Big

The Tennis Industry Association has released data on the 3,482 facilities participating in the Tennis Welcome Center initiative that show 80 percent, or 2,770, run leagues, while 78 percent, or 2,700, offer Free Lesson Programs. Nearly 1,400 of TWCs are at public parks, while 982 are at private facilities that accept non-members. To become a TWC, visit www.partners.tenniswelcomecenter.com.

Total TWCs 3,482
Types of Facilities
Public Parks 1,396 40%
Resorts 82 2%
Schools/Universities 509 15%
Private/accepts non-members 982 28%
Private/members only 126 4%
Types of Programs
Adult Programs 2,288 66%
Junior Programs 2,057 59%
Free Lesson Programs 2,700 78%
Leagues 2,770 80%
50-plus 1,461 42%
Team Tennis 2,393 69%
Ladders 2,000 57%
Socials 2,070 59%
Round Robins 2,325 67%
Tournaments 2,023 58%

Wilson Introduces New ‘nCode’ Series of Racquets

Wilson nSix-One Tour 90

If you’re looking for the next big thing in tennis, well, you may never actually see it. That’s what Wilson is saying about its new “nCode” line of four racquets, which use an exclusive nano technology process.

Racquet are made of billions of carbon fibers, but at the nanoscopic level (one-billionth of a meter), there are voids between the individual fibers, which create stress points and weaken the frame, says Wilson. The nCode technology reinforces the molecular structure of the frame and fills the voids, which Wilson says enhances the overall properties of the carbon matrix, making nCode racquets stronger, more resilient and able to “play better longer.” Specifically, Wilson says that when a racquet is “nCoded,” nano-sized silicon oxide crystals fill the voids between the carbon fibers.

Wilson says the “code” is “2 2 22,” which translates to “2 times stronger, 2 times more stable and 22 percent more power.” The nCode racquets feature a new frame design and white paint, along with a new string-bed technology that Wilson calls nZone.

The n1 frame, in white and chrome, is the most powerful in the line, with a 115-square-inch head and length of 27.9 inches. It’s built for players who need to generate more power from their shorter swings.

The n2, in red with white accents, is available in 98 and 110 square inches, weighing 9.2 and 9.0 ounces, respectively, and measuring 27.25 inches long. It’s designed for players looking to add more control to their game.

The nSix-One 95 and nSix-One Tour frames are the heaviest and most flexible of the line, for competitive players. The nSix-One 95 is 27 inches long and weighs 11.7 ounces; the nSix-One Tour has a 90-square-inch head, is 27 inches long and weighs 12 ounces.

For more information, contact Wilson at 773-714-6400 or wilson.com.

Match Point Debuts New Strategy Board

Match Point introduces its new Dual Meet and Strategy Board. The board is 2 feet by 2 feet, two-sided, and silk-screened with permanent markings. One side is for recording dual-meet tennis match scores, while the other side contains a court layout for strategy diagrams, as well as a ladder board. A marking pen is included, and names can be erased easily with a damp cloth. The boards can hang from a court fence by using the four corner holes, ties, and S-hooks. Cost is $34. To order, call 800-670-4964, fax 262-827-0771, or order online at match-point.biz.

Match Point

USTA Offers Workshops For Development Coaches

The USTA provides hands-on workshops for Development Coaches in local communities throughout the country. The faculty consists of certified tennis teaching pros, and the workshops emphasize the effective handling of large groups of new or returning players of all ages, focusing on getting these students to play tennis quickly and in a fun and social environment.

The entry-level Development Coach Workshops provide participants with a solid foundation for effective team practices, the “games-based approach” to coaching, teaching large groups, and the proper use of teaching aids. The workshops are ideal for inexperienced teachers, seasonal coaches or anyone else working with children or adults at the development level.

Upcoming Development Coach Workshops include: (dates and locations subject to change)

Plexipave to Supply 100 Multi-Sport Courts to Dominican Republic

Plexipave Sport Surfacing Systems, a division of California Products Corp., will supply 100 Plexiflor multi-sport courts to the Dominican Republic as part of a $56 million project in that country.

In addition to the 100 multi-sport courts, the project also includes 115 metal recreation buildings, 30 playgrounds, 10 polyurethane running tracks, 15 NCAA and 11 NBA-grade wood floor basketball courts to be installed at various locations throughout the country. The project is scheduled to be completed by September 2005.

Funding for the major redevelopment comes from the Ex-Import Bank of the United States and requires 85 percent of the materials used for the project to come from U.S. suppliers. The Ministry of Sports of the Dominican Republic has contracted with Child Safe Products Inc. of Amityville, N.Y., to complete the project.

The 100 Plexiflor surfaces will be at indoor facilities intended for use as basketball and volleyball courts. Plexiflor is a reinforced, smooth acrylic coating especially formulated for use over asphalt or concrete. For this project, the surface will be a five-layer system installed over concrete, with a Pacific Blue finish color.

“We are pleased to be working with California Products for the 100 acrylic courts as part of this project,” says Guy Digennaro of Child Safe. “We’ve used the Plexiflor surface before and are extremely happy with the ease of application and the durable, affordable, long life we can expect from the product.”

“We’re extremely confident in the product selection and are happy to see our products used in this type of development project,” says Art Tucker, vice president of California Products Corporation/Plexipave Sport Surfacing.

For more information about Plexiflor or any of the surfacing systems available from Plexipave, visit the company website at www.plexipave.com or call 800-225-1141.

By-Pass-Open Creator Listed As a ‘Daily Point of Light’

Herman Slotoroff of Somers, N.Y., was selected as the Daily Point of Light for March 12, 2004. The award honors individuals and organizations that have made a commitment to connect Americans through service to help meet critical needs in their communities and in the nation.

Following heart bypass surgery, Slotoroff, an avid tennis player, created the By-Pass-Open tennis tournament in 1993, and through his efforts the event has now raised more than $200,000 for research for the American Heart Association.

Slotoroff, a 70-year-old retired accountant, incorporated the By-Pass-Open as a nonprofit organization, convinced a nearby tennis club to donate its facilities on an off day, then personally undertook all the tasks needed to make it happen.

President George W. Bush and former president George H. W. Bush have endorsed the Daily Points of Light Award, and each will send a congratulatory letter to Slotoroff. The award is given by The Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network, in partnership with the Knights of Columbus and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

USPTA Sets 2004 World Conference

The USPTA’s World Conference on Tennis will be Sept. 18 to 25 at the La Quinta Resort and Club in La Quinta, Calif. The conference will feature more than 80 seminars and four-hour specialty courses. Also, the USPTA will host its International Tennis Championships, board and executive committee meetings, a tennis-only buying show, awards and more. For more information, including registration details, visit www.uspta.com or call 800-877-8248.

USTA/NJTL Launches National Arthur Ashe Essay Contest

The USTA/National Junior Tennis League has launched its sixth annual Arthur Ashe Essay Contest to commemorate the legacy of humanitarian and tennis great Arthur Ashe. For the second consecutive year, the essay contest, previously open only to USTA/NJTL participants, welcomes entries from all schoolchildren.

Winners will receive an all-expense-paid trip to New York from Aug. 20 to 22, 2004, and will be guests at Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess on Saturday, Aug. 21, preceding the 2004 U.S. Open. Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day is a daylong festival of kids’ tennis activities — including interactive games, musical entertainment and free clinics.

“Arthur Ashe lived an exemplary life, donating his time to underprivileged youth and growth of the game,” says Barbara Wynne of Indianapolis, NJTL Committee Honorary Chair and originator of the Ashe essay contest. “We are thrilled to honor Arthur’s achievements and contributions to both tennis and disadvantaged youth through this national essay contest.”

To enter, children 18 or younger must write an essay in 300 words or less on “Why is Arthur Ashe a sports legend?” All entries must be submitted to the USTA on 8½ by 11-inch paper by the end of the business day on July 6, 2004. Winners will be notified by July 30. Ten national winners will be selected, one boy and one girl from each of the five age groups, and awarded round-trip coach air transportation to New York for themselves and a parent/legal guardian and two nights at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan.

The USTA/NJTL, also known as USA Tennis NJTL, was established in 1969 by Ashe, Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder to use tennis as a means of developing the character of young people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to learn and play the sport. Since 1985, it has been owned and supported by the USTA as one of its primary outreach programs to multicultural communities. The program has more than 1,000 chapters and programs and over 200,000 participants.

Young Wins Easter Bowl 18s

Donald Young

Donald Young of Chicago became the youngest person, at age 14, to win the Boys’ 18 title at the Easter Bowl USTA National Junior Spring Championships in April at the Riviera Resort and Racquet Club in Palm Springs. In the final, Young rallied to beat No. 1 seed Daniel Yoo of Florida 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

This year’s Easter bowl featured 768 players form 43 states competing in six divisions over nine days. Considered a top showcase for top American juniors in the U.S., the Easter Bowl, sponsored by Gatorade, is the only USTA National Championship where almost every age group — boys’ and girls’ 14, 16 and 18 — are competing at the same time in the same location. The results of the championships are:

USTA Southern Gives $490,000 To Support Local Tennis Growth in region

The USTA Southern Section announced that it has given $489,609 in Community Development Local Membership (CDLM) funding to 111 Community Tennis Associations throughout the South in an effort to support the mission of “promoting and developing the growth of tennis in the local community.”

Additionally, each of the USTA Southern Section’s nine states matched a percentage of the overall funding, bringing the total community contribution to $652,812. The total dollars given in 2004 is based on each individual community’s success in growing program and player participation in 2003. All funding received must be used to help support the mission of “promoting and developing the growth of tennis in the local community.” This includes the development of new tennis programs and USTA membership promotion.

Total 2004 funding for the nine USTA Southern Section states is:

Williams Sisters Pen Book On ‘How to Play Tennis’

How to Play Tennis

The book How to Play Tennis, by Venus and Serena Williams, will be available starting Aug. 1 from publisher DK, in time for this year’s U.S. Open. According to the publisher, the book offers instruction and inspiration, and will include personal anecdotes and advice from the sisters, along with more than 700 specially commissioned action photographs. Among the topics covered are how the Williams’s warm up for a match, serving techniques, basic skills, tennis etiquette, match tactics, and more.

“We hope that publishing this book will draw even more young players to the sport of tennis, especially those who may not have access to professional coaching or private courts,” the sisters said in a statement. “Tennis is an exciting and fun game to play, and by following the techniques in this book, young players will develop their skills on the court and maybe learn to be role models off the court, too.”

The 96-page hardcover book, for ages 8 and up, will sell for $19.99.

PowerBar Now Offers Sports Beverage System

PowerBar

You’re probably familiar with PowerBar, which has been around for more than 17 years. Now, though, PowerBar Inc. has come out with the PowerBar Beverage System, two new powdered sports drink mixes that the company says provide only the essential ingredients for maximum hydration, prolonged energy and rapid recovery PowerBar partnered with renowned coach Chris Carmichael and Carmichael Training Systems to create the new drinks, which are available in two formulations. The PowerBar Endurance Sport Drink is in a lemon-lime flavor (single-serve packet retails for $1.49; a 900-gram canister for $19.99) and the PowerBar Performance Recovery Drink is offered in orange flavor (single-serve for $1.75; canister for $24.99). For more information, call 307-733-1514.

HEAD Launches New Liquidmetal Rave

Head Liquidmetal Rave

HEAD has launched the new Liquidmetal Rave racquet, which the company says is designed to use all the energy that a player’s swing generates.

HEAD says that, because of its atomic structure, the Liquidmetal alloy, which is integrated into the frame’s construction at four areas of the racquet’s head, won’t deform on ball impact, allowing all the energy from the impact with the ball to be used for the return shot. “What a player puts into his or her swing is exactly what they get out of it,” the company says.

The Rave has a 98-square-inch head, weighs 10 ounces unstrung, and is 27-1/3 inches long. It has a suggested retail price of $170. For more information, call 800-289-7366 or visit head.com.

Short Sets

Maria Sharapova Demonstrates ‘Speedminton’ at Miami Tourney

Speedminton

Pro player Maria Sharapova introduced the extreme sport “Speedminton” at the recent Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami in March. The event marked the official launch of the new sport to consumers, as demonstrations and contests were held at the pro tournament.

Speedminton is an easy to learn racquet sport that distributor Pro Performance Sports markets as “combining the best of tennis, badminton and racquetball and infusing it with speed.” The sport can be played indoors, outdoors and even at night. The racquet enables participants to strike the “speeder” in excess of 180 mph, but don’t let the speed put you off. Different shuttlecocks allow for different types of play.

Volleys between players are low and fast. In competitive play, opponents position themselves in “speedcourts” — boxes that are 18 feet square and positioned 42 feet apart. A tennis court can easily be modified for competitive play. The sport can also be played in a park or on a beach.

A Speedminton “Speedset” contains everything necessary to get started, including two racquets, an EasyCourt Set, three Speeders, four Speedlights to put in the Speeders for night play and a rulebook, for $59.95. For more information, visit speedminton.com or call 877-225-7275.

Tennis Ranks 22nd in Survey, But Adds 1 Million Players

According to a sports participation study by SGMA International, tennis ranks 22nd in the list of the top 30 sports activities and recreational endeavors in the U.S., based on participation in 2003. Twelve of the top 30 categories are fitness related.

The good news for tennis, though, is that according to the survey, there were about a million more tennis players in 2003 vs. 2002. The SGMA Sports Participation Survey of participants age 6 and above shows that 17.32 million people played tennis in 2003, up from 16.35 million in 2002, which is a 5.9 percent increase.

Sports/Activity
(Based on participation
numbers in 2003)
No. of Participants
Age 6 and above
(in millions)
1. Bowling 55.0
2. Treadmill Exercise 45.6
3. Fishing (Freshwater - Other) 43.8
4. Stretching 42.1
5. Tent Camping 41.9
6. Billiards/Pool 40.7
7. Day Hiking 39.1
8. Fitness Walking 37.9
9. Running/Jogging 36.2
10. Basketball 35.4
11. Dumbbells 30.5
12. Weight/Resistance Machines 30.0
13. Hand Weights 29.7
14. Calisthenics 28.0
15. Golf 27.3
16. Barbells 25.6
17. Darts 19.5
18. Inline Skating 19.2
19. RV Camping 19.0
20. Stationary Cycling (Upright Bike) 17.5
21. Abdominal Machine/Device 17.4
22. Tennis 17.3
23. Ice Skating 17.0
24. Soccer (Outdoor) 16.1
25. Horseback Riding 16.0
26. Fitness Swimming 15.9
27. Hunting (Rifle) 15.2
27. Saltwater Fishing 15.2
27. Target Shooting (Rifle) 15.2

This information has been abstracted from the annual Superstudy of Sports Participation conducted by American Sports Data Inc., which monitors 103 sports and fitness activities. SGMA International’s Sports Participation Topline Report (2004 edition) can be downloaded from www.SGMA.com.

U.S. Open Series 2004 TV Schedule

The new U.S. Open Series of summer hard-court pro tournaments leading up to the U.S. Open will provide 100 hours of tennis on TV over the six-week season, including a men’s and women’s final every Sunday afternoon. At your shop or facility, make sure you tune the TV to catch the latest action.

 

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